Wait, Did That Really Hab-En? Habs Pull Out Comeback Victory Against Bruins
The Montreal Canadiens won their second game in a row on Saturday night, at home against the Boston Bruins. Normally that wouldn't sound like such a major accomplishment, but considering it was the first time they managed to win back-to-back games since a three game win streak at the beginning of December, it seems worth mentioning.
And just like their 2-1 shootout victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, the Habs decided to take the long way to victory against the Bruins last night. Two second period goals by Patrice Bergeron during the second period (his 9th and 10th of the season), meant that the Habs would have to come back from a two goal deficit, and they would have to do it in the third period. In case you missed all the cynicists and the pundits during the game last night, the Canadiens haven't exactly had the easier time coming from behind late in games this season, and most, myself included, felt that the game was all but over once Bergeron scored his second of the game.
For once, however, the stars aligned and the team played all the right cards, and the Canadiens pulled out a seemingly impossible 3-2 overtime victory against one of their biggest rivals.
Even late in the third, with only a handful of minutes left, it seemed as if the Canadiens were completely out of luck, as what seemed to most like a good goal from Mathieu Darche was deemed a high stick by the folks in Toronto. But with less than two and a half minutes left in the game, a weak-looking Scott Gomez shot on a late-game powerplay would be deflected past Tim Thomas thanks to Zdeno Chara's skate. In the last minute of the game, another lucky goal would go in, as a Wisniewski shot would be deflected off Brian Gionta's skate and past Thomas yet again to send the game in overtime, where at 3:43, Max Pacioretty would score on yet another innocent looking shot, and that would be all she wrote.
Despite making 39 saves on the site, Tim Thomas would be made to look like a fool in the span of 10 minutes by a Montreal Canadiens team that probably shouldn't have won this game. The long list of bumbling idiots would be followed by captain and top defenseman Zdeno Chara, who had a horrible night on the blue line, on the ice for all three Habs goals, and would cap off this epic collapse by showing his true colors after the final goal horn in OT by going after the Canadiens for a light tap by Max Pacioretty after he scored the game winner. Chara would lose it, causing what could have been a pretty ugly incident in a scrum after the end of the game, with Pacioretty, Hal Gill, PK Subban, and others locking horns.
If that wasn't enough, Chara would avoid the media after the game. Chara's silence would actually say more than any trite and canned answer he could have provided to the media.
You'd think that Chara would be used to losing by now. Then again, the Bruins haven't seen this kind of collapse since... well... last may against the Philadelphia Flyers.
With the win, the Canadiens are now tied with the Bruins for the top spot in the Northeast. The Bruins have games in hand and more goals, so they retain the top spot in the division officially, but regardless of positioning in the standings, last night's game definitely spoke volumes. The Canadiens are now 3-0 against the Bruins on the season, and considering their post-game actions, both in this game and the last.
After the game, Michael Ryder would follow up Chara's classless actions by complaining about the penalty he took late in the game:
“I don’t even know if it was a real penalty. I think he dove a little bit there. I kind of slashed his stick, or whatever. I don’t think I caught him that much. That’s it. It just happened. It’s something you don’t want to do. But I don’t think it was that bad, so I don’t know.”
Never mind, you know, that only a minute earlier the refs basically gave you the win, and penalty or no penalty, you know, Thomas still let in three extremely weak goals buddy.
Coach Claude Julien seemed to be a little more reasonable in his post-game complaints, but it's pretty amusing to see a group of players seriously loathe the Canadiens for no reason other than the fact that they consistently have their number, no matter which team is playing better at any point in time.
TOUGH TIMES AHEAD
I hate to sound like a cynic, but despite picking up five out of six possible points this week, I still have my reservations about this team. December was a complete disaster for the Canadiens, even considering it was pretty obvious they would come out of it and their 7 game Christmas road trip with a losing record.
The Habs will now play the rest of the season without their top two defenseman, as Josh Gorges will miss the rest of the year with knee surgery, and most of the rest of their top six isn't getting any younger. Their top six forwards have been incredibly inconsistent and the Habs are definitely missing a few pieces up front. And despite consistently being the best part of this team, there's no way Price will single-handedly bring this team to the playoffs, not if he doesn't get consistent support from the team in front of him.
I'm glad the Canadiens were able to bounce back from their piss-poor performance over the holidays, but they aren't out of the muck just yet. Next week will see a back-to-back against the Rangers and Penguins on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a second game against the Rangers at home on Saturday night. The week after that, the Canadiens will play two back-to-back situations, the first against the Flames and Sabres, the second against the Sens and Ducks, before closing out the month with their final game against the Flyers on the 25th (the last weekend of the month is All-Star Weekend). With all their injuries and all the adversity they've faced, they're going to have to pull out all the stops to stay competitive.
And with the trade deadline slowly approaching, don't be surprised to see Pierre Gauthier use his remaining cap space to try and bring in at least another forward to support the offense.
What are your expectations for the Canadiens in the weeks to come? Will the rebound from the fiasco that was the month of December? Can they play some inspired hockey with the injuries starting to accumulate, and start proving some people wrong? And what did you think of last night's win and the extra-curricular activities by Chara and the Bruins post game?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time,